My wife works in retail, and she came home one day talking about a customer who had brought in some smoked cheese for her to try. She came home that night raving about it! So I asked her to get more details from the gentleman because the idea of smoking cheese seemed absurd to me! How do you keep your smoker cool enough to not melt it?! She came home a couple of days later and began to tell me all about the process of cold smoking. Plus, she brought home a few pieces for me to try, and I got to admit, I was hooked!! It was delicious!!
A couple of days later, a smoking tube arrived from Amazon because, well, my wife ordered it, so I knew it was “game on”! I was excited to give it a try! I loaded up some chips in the smoke tube, lit it, and placed it in my grill. I had a difficult time keeping the chips lit so it didn’t produce a lot of smoke, but the cheese still tasted good. I tried and tried, but still wasn’t producing good smoked cheese that my wife brought home for me to sample. However, I was determined to figure out the best process to do this after many so-so results, and here’s what I came up with!
After having such a hard time with the wood chips the first time, the next weekend I filled the smoke tube with hickory and apple pellets and placed it in the bottom of the charcoal chamber, lit it, and let it go. The pellets produced plenty of smoke! Lesson learned! However, lighting them wasn’t easy that first time! Frustrated, I finally settled on using a small propane torch to get it lit. Another lesson learned! I placed some cheese on the top grate, put the lid on, and waited. Four hours later we had a heavily smoked batch of cheese! Too heavy as a matter of fact! It was really bitter and the smoke covered the taste of the cheese. So much so that we decided to cut the time in half in the future.
However, I didn’t take into consideration how much heat that tube of pellets can produce! After my third or fourth attempt, I opened the lid to find a block had melted through the grates! UGH!!! So I learned yet another lesson, put the water pan in with about a gallon of water! Yeah, I know, I should have been doing that from the start!!
After the cheese comes off the smoker, I wrap in plastic film, place it in a Ziploc bag, and then put in the fridge for 1 week. The smoke flavor is way too strong when it first comes off the smoker. Wrapping it in plastic makes the smoke penetrate the cheese and gives it time to settle down and blend in. Trust me, the wait is totally worth it!!
Now, whenever I smoke cheese, I’m getting great, consistent results! We have found that smoked sharp cheddar, mozzarella, colby-jack, Monterrey Jack, and Swiss are our favorites! I let the cheese smoke for 2 hours, and my wife and I decided that we like apple smoked cheese the best. Hickory is just too strong for cheese in our opinions. Maybe I’ll try some cherry in the future?
I never thought that smoking cheese would turn out this good, and was so easy to make! In the end, I’m glad my wife came home from work excited about smoked cheese. Now we have turned all our family and friends on to it and they love it just as much as we do!